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Jaylen Waddle to Giants in SB Nation writer’s mock draft

Giants add home-run hitting wide receiver at No. 11

CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In the annual SB Nation writer’s mock draft yours truly chose Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle for the New York Giants with the 11th overall pick.

The top 10 went like this:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars — QB Trevor Lawrence
  2. New York Jets — QB Zach Wilson
  3. San Francisco 49ers — QB Justin Fields
  4. Atlanta Falcons — QB Trey Lance
  5. Cincinnati Bengals — WR Ja’Marr Chase
  6. Miami Dolphins — TE Kyle Pitts
  7. Detroit Lions — OT Penei Sewell
  8. Carolina Panthers — OT Rashawn Slater
  9. Denver Broncos — LB Micah Parsons
  10. Dallas Cowboys — CB Patrick Surtain II

That left me with wide receivers DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, my choice of edge rushers (you know Azeez Ojulari would be my edge defender of choice), an offensive lineman like Alijah Vera-Tucker or maybe even a cornerback like Jaycee Horn to choose from.

Here is what I wrote in giving my reasoning:

After signing Kenny Golladay as a free agent, the Giants don’t “need” to select a wide receiver in this spot. What they really need is a player who make an impact from Day 1, whether it be as an edge rusher, starting offensive lineman, wide receiver, linebacker, tight end or whatever.

The most obvious impact player on the board is Waddle, and I don’t believe it’s overkill to draft a receiver here. If linebacker Micah Parsons or offensive lineman Rashawn Slater were on the board I might go in a different direction here, but I’m not hesitating to grab Waddle. And I’m not unhappy about it at all.

Waddle walks in the door as the second-best wide receiver on the Giants (sorry, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton). In my eyes, he immediately makes the Giants group of pass catchers one of the best in the league.

Waddle is a game-breaker with elite speed, but he’s not just a speed guy. He route-running is more nuanced that many realize. Plus, he has elite punt, and maybe kickoff, return skills.

I see DeSean Jackson — maybe without the attitude — when I watch Waddle. I will sign up for that.

I want to amend that slightly, since I actually made that pick and wrote that blurb a week or so ago. I might take the wide receiver there even with Parsons and Slater on the board. I just don’t have enough information to know whether or not I should be concerned about the character questions about Parsons. With Slater, as much as I really like the prospect and would be happy to pick him, I think there will be starting-caliber guards available on Day 2. There probably isn’t going to be a Smith or a Waddle.

In an interesting twist to the writer’s mock, our own Chris Pflum is adding his analysis to many of the picks. The SB Nation post announcing the pick actually has his byline on it. This, of course, means Chris is standing in judgment of my choice.

Fortunately for Chris, he seems cool with my choice of Waddle. He wrote:

Is Jaylen Waddle the perfect, ideal pick for the New York Giants at 11th overall? Probably not — for my money that would be Penei Sewell or Ja’Marr Chase — but between the Giants’ moves in free agency and how the draft board shook out here, there are a few ways the Giants could go and improve their team over the next five years.

I am a big advocate of taking “best player available” in the draft, even if it feels like a luxury pick at the time. Giants fans have seen entire position groups wiped out in short order by injury, and “luxury picks” turn into “vital pieces” in a heartbeat. The Giants made Kenny Golladay one of the highest paid receivers in the NFL (he’ll be averaging $21 million per year from 2022 to 2024), but he still only has one complete season under his belt. They are only one rolled ankle or pulled hamstring away from being right back where they were the last two seasons.

I’m also an advocate for reserving premium resources (ie: high first-round picks) for premium positions (EDGE, cornerback, offensive tackle, and wide receiver). Those positions have the highest price tag in free agency, so locking up players on rookie deals at those positions makes sense.

Waddle would give the Giants an element of explosiveness their offense has lacked for a few years now, both with his ability to blow the top off a defense and be a run-after-catch threat on underneath passes. That not only forces defenses to play smaller, faster personnel groupings, but also take defenders out of the tackle box — both of which makes Saquon Barkley’s life easier.

So while Waddle might not be perfect, and might even seem like a bit of a luxury for the Giants, he could be a valuable player and a big boost for one of the league’s most anemic offenses in 2020.